By Kelly R. Eisenhauer
Thank God for TCMA. If it wouldn’t have been for The Card Memorabilia Associates, the 1970’s and 80’s would have been boring. It was a dormant time period from a standpoint of collecting Mickey Mantle baseball cards. As we all know, Mickey’s last real card from Topps was issued in 1969, even though he never played during that centennial year of Major League Baseball.
Mickey’s next major card didn’t come about until six years later, when Topps did a special subset of former Most Valuable Player cards (No. 194, No. 195 and No. 200) in their colorful 1975 set. Other than those three cards, “The Mick” wouldn’t appear in a nationally produced card set until 1986, when Sportsflics produced a 3D flicker set called Decade Greats. (Photo 1,079)
It would not be until five years later in 1991 that Score would emerge on the collecting scene to produce a special seven-card set that would highlight his storied career. Pinnacle, a division of Score, would also join the club with an exclusive 30 card set. (Photo 1,080-1,082)
Upper Deck wouldn’t produce Mantle cards until 1993 and Topps would have to wait until 1996 to produce the first of many Mantle cards that are still being produced today.
With that all being said, Mike Aronstein and Tom Collier decided to form TCMA and compete against rival Topps by producing minor league cards, independent sets and special collector sets. It was these special collector sets that featured many different Mickey Mantle cards that were primarily 3½-by-5½ inches or the standard 3½-by-2½ inches in size, although other sized cards were made as well.
Other companies and individuals followed suit and produced numerous “oddball” sets and cards that still are being sought after by many advanced collectors today.
Bill Hongach of Renata Galasso Inc., one of the major hobby card dealers in the country in the 1980s, also collaborated with TCMA to produce a number of special collector sets that featured Mantle.
In this installment of Mickey Mantle: The Complete Collectibles Guide, I will focus on the cards and postcards that were issued by TCMA and Renata Galasso Inc. in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Postcard-sized TCMA Mantle issues
1. 1973 TCMA All-Time New York Yankees Team
The first Mickey Mantle TCMA card was produced in 1973. This 3¼-by-5½-inch, black-and-white, postcard-size issue featured Mickey in a right-handed batting pose with the words “Outfield-Mickey Mantle” typed at the bottom. The reverse had the entire All Time New York Yankee Team listed by name and position. At the bottom of the card in typed set print was The Card Memorabilia Associates, Post Office Box No. 2, Amawalk, NY 10501.
(Photos 1,083 and 1,084)
2. 1973-78 TCMA League Leaders
In 1975, TCMA issued a set of postcard-sized, black-and-white cards that measured 3½-by-5½ inches. The theme for this set honored the various statistical leaders from the 1920’s through the 1950’s. The Mantle card shows Mickey kneeling on his right knee while leaning on a bat under his right arm. The reverse side has Mantle’s name leading the American League in home runs for the 1955, 1956, and 1958 seasons.
(Photos 1,085 and 1,086)
3. 1973-1980 TCMA All-Time Greats Postcards
Starting in 1973, TCMA produced a 144-postcard set called All-Time Greats. Issued in six series of 24 cards each, the set featured the game’s greatest stars and used large black-and-white photography for the front of its cards. The reverse side featured postcard markings with some cards having individual player’s statistics. Three different Mantle cards were made. The first featured a close-up photo of a smiling Mickey looking to his left. This card was issued in series No. 4. (Photo 1,087)
A second postcard was issued that featured Mickey with Joe DiMaggio. This was released in Series 5.
The third and final Mantle was released in 1975. It featured Mickey and New York Giant center fielder Willie Mays. The dynamic duo were shown chatting with one another while holding their bats. (Photo 1,089)
4. Great Players Of The 1950’s and 1960’s – Series 1
In 1982, TCMA issued a 20-card color set that was that was slightly larger than a standard postcard-sized issue. Measuring 3¾-by-5¾ inches, the fronts were pure without graphics, while the backs featured a red border with a short biographical write-up of the player. Lifetime statistics were also included. The Mantle card showed Mickey in his home pinstriped uniform while wearing his Rawlings fielder’s glove. The reverse showed a black-and white head shot of Mickey with his statistical data. The card was dated and numbered as TCMA, Ltd. 1982-19. (Photo 1,090)
5. Great Players of The 1950’s and 1960’s – Series 2
Bordered in white with a green stripe at the bottom, TCMA produced a 33-card, second series set of large formatted cards in 1984. Measuring the same 3¾-by-53/4 inches, the backs included small write-ups about the player or players and used a dark-blue border with a star-filled banner in the upper right and left corners. Mantle appeared on two cards in the set. Card No. 26 pictured him with teammate Roger Maris and Mrs. Babe Ruth. Card No. 27 featured Mickey with fellow Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Willie Mays.
(Photos 1,091 and 1,092)
7. Baseball Photo Classics
With postcard-styled backings and black-and-white photography of multiple players on the front, TCMA issued a 40-card set that measured 3½-by-5½ inches. The set included two cards with Mantle. The first, card No. 3, showed President Dwight D. Eisenhower shaking hands with Mickey and Manager Casey Stengel in a horizontal layout. Other Yankees are shown waiting in line to greet the President. (Photo 1,093)
Card No. 22 shows the M&M Boys, Mantle and Maris, posing with their bats on their shoulders. Both are wearing their pinstriped New York Yankee uniforms in a photo that was taken in spring training. The postcards were produced in 1985. (Photo 1,094)
8. 1970’s Yankees Team Pack
Measuring 3½-by-5 inches, TCMA produced a set of 25 postcard–sized, black-and white New York Yankees players. The set was reminiscent of the stadium picture packs that were available at Yankee Stadium. Made up of players from 1959-62, the cards showed a player’s photo with name and New York Yankees printed at the bottom. The reverse showed postcard markings with the player’s name and team. The Mantle is No. 14. The cards were sold at Yankee Stadium and also in Cooperstown. (Photo 1,095)
9. Living Legends Mickey Mantle
Made on paper-thin white paper stock, this Mantle card shows a close-up photo of Mickey at Old-Timers Day at Yankee Stadium. The blank-backed issue shows Mickey with his name printed vertically along the card’s left side border. The issue dates back to 1980. (Photo 1,096)
The Baseball Card Sized TCMA Issues of Mickey Mantle
10. 1975 All-Time Greats Mini
In 1975, TCMA issued a smaller version of their All-Time Greats Postcard set. Printed in dark blue, the mini cards measured 23/8-by-3¾ inches. With a bust shot photo of Mickey in his Yankee pinstripes, Mick is shown looking to his left. An All-Time Greats banner occupies the top of the card, while Mick’s name is printed in blue over a white background at the bottom of the card. The reverse side features Mickey’s full name, Mickey Charles Mantle, with his lifetime statistics. The card also states that Mickey entered the Hall of Fame in 1974. The cards were unnumbered and were issued in four-card strips. A black-and-white version also exists of the same card. (Photo 1,097 and 1,098)
11. 1975 TCMA All-Time New York Yankees
Printed in blue-and-white and black-and-white, these two sets measure 2½-by-3¾. inches. The players chosen in the set are the best players at their positions for the New York Yankees. Players in the set include: Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Red Rolfe, Phil Rizzuto, Babe Ruth, Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Whitey Ford, Johnny Murphy and Manager Casey Stengel. The cards are unnumbered with TCMA, Ltd. 1975 printed at the bottom of each card.
(Photos 1,099 and 1,100)
12. 1978 TCMA The 1960’s
In 1978, TCMA produced a card set that numbered 293 cards. Using color photos on the front without any graphics, the reverse featured a large career summary printed in green ink. The Mantle card is No. 262 and shows Mickey in a right-handed batting stance with the Yankee Stadium façade in the background. (Photo 1,101)
13. 1979 TCMA Baseball History Series: The 1950’s
Resembling the 1953 Bowman Color set, TCMA issued a 291-card set that measured the standard 2½-by-3½ inches. The fronts were totally pure; free of any graphics, while the backs of the card were red and black with personal statistics. TCMA used a rookie photo of Mickey from 1951, where he is shown in an outfield pose with both his hands on his knees. The 1951 American League patch can be seen on Mickey’s left shoulder sleeve. (Photo 1,102)
14. 1978-79 Test Wrappers for The 1950’s and 1960s
With hopes of creating a wrapper to package their product, TCMA issued two different “test” wrappers that measured 20-by-4 inches. The 1950’s wrapper was printed in yellow and promoted the 291-card set while showing frontal views of Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Warren Spahn. The back side or reverse of Jackie Robinson’ s card No. 291 is also shown. The set sold for $14.99.
The 1960’s wrapper was printed in a light-blue color. Frontal views of Hank Aaron, Mantle and Sandy Koufax are shown, while the backing of a Whitey Ford card is also revealed. The complete set also sold for $14.99. The wrappers are quite scarce, since it seems that the project may have been scrapped. Shown are two photos of both wrappers, with a close-up of the Mantle entry.
(Photos 1,103 and 1,104)
15. 1980 TCMA All-Time Yankees
In 1980, TCMA produced at least 12 different team sets that featured 11 all-time greats and a manager. Using black-and-white photography and a decorative frame with the player’s name printed at the bottom, the cards measured 2½-by-3½. The reverse side sported the all-time greats position by position. Printed in brown and white, Mantle was one of the three All-Time Great Yankees outfielders, along with DiMaggio and Ruth. (Photo 1,105)
16. The 1981 TCMA The 1960’s – Series 2
Printed in 1981, this second series of “The 1960s” was identical in format to the 1978 release. Card No. 474 shows a photo of the “Modern Day Murderer’s Row.” Pictured are Maris, Yogi Berra, Mantle, Elston Howard, Moose Skowron and Johnny Blanchard. The photo was taken in spring training in 1962. The reverse was printed in green and white. Cards from this series were very limited and are somewhat difficult to find. (Photo 1,106)
17. 1982 TCMA Yankees Yearbook Insert Card Sheet
In 1982, TCMA produced an 18-card 1951 Bowman-styled set that was inserted in the 1982 New York Yankees Yearbook. Found in uncut form, the two nine-card sheets featured mostly New York Yankee greats, as well as other stars. The cards included: Phil Rizutto, DiMaggio, Billy Pierce, Harmon Killebrew, Berra, Joe Sewell, Virgil Trucks, Roy Sievers, Mantle, Ted Williams, Billy Martin, Mel Parnell, Bill Dickey, Hank Greenberg, Allie Reynolds, Boog Powell, Whitey Ford and Lou Boudreau.
The backs included statistics and a biographical write-up of each player. The Mantle card is No. 15. The card is shown with both front and back as well as the uncut 9-card sheet that includes Mantle. (Photos 1,107 and 1,108)
18. 1982 TCMA Greatest Sluggers
In 1982, TCMA produced a 45-card set called Baseball’s Greatest Sluggers. The standard-size cards used both black-and-white and color photos with a bordered white frame. The reverse included personal data and a career biographical write-up. The Mantle card shows him in his rookie year holding a bat below his waist. The Mantle card is No. 3 in the set and comes in two different variations.
The first variation is perforated with a pure-white backing, as it came from an uncut sheet of nine promo cards. The second variation has straight edges and has been has been printed on gray cardboard stock. (Photo 1,109)
The uncut promo sheet included three players from the “Baseball’s Greatest Sluggers” set and three cards from two other parallel sets that TCMA also created called “Baseball’s Greatest Hitters” and “Baseball Greatest Pitchers.” The nine-card uncut sheet contained perforated cards of the following players: Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Gil Hodges, Mantle and Yogi Berra. (Photo 1,110)
19. 50 Years of Yankee All Stars
In 1983, TCMA issued a 50-card set that featured New York Yankee players who participated in the All-Star Game from 1933-83. Using the original artwork from nationally known sports artist Robert Steven Simon, the cards measured 2¾-by-3½ inches. The set contained two Mantle cards. Card No. 1, a checklist for the set, showed a portrait Mickey wearing his road gray Yankee uniform, while No. 26 showed him wearing a dark turtleneck shirt underneath his home Yankee pinstriped uniform. (Photos 1,111 and 1,112)
20. 1983 Most Valuable Players
Part of a series that recognized Cy Young Award winners, home run champs and Most Valuable Players in both the National and American Leagues, this set featured 41 different cards. Mantle appeared only in the MVP – AL set. Measuring standard size, the Mantle card showed him in his home pinstriped Yankee uniform during his rookie year. The back includes a paragraph of biographical information and mentions Mickey’s three MVP seasons of 1956, 1957 and 1962. All the cards in this series were unnumbered. (Photo 1,113)
21. Robert Stephen Simon’s Super Star Card Set
In 1986, TCMA marketed another 50-card set that featured the artwork of Robert Stephen Simon. Using his original paintings, the cards measured 213/16-by-3½ inches and contained no graphics on the front of the card. The backs were printed in blue and white with black typeset and contained short biographical write-ups about each player. There were seven different Mickey Mantle cards in this set.
No. 4 – “Tribute To The Mick” (Photo 1,114)
No. 7 – “Mantle of Greatness” (Photo 1,115)
No. 9 – “Yanks of Yesteryear,” featuring nine different Yankees, including Mantle (Photo 1,116)
No. 11 “Mickey Mantle”
No. 18 “Stars in Stripes,” featuring DiMaggio and Mantle
No. 23 “Mickey Mantle 4 Ways” (Photo 1,119)
No. 24 “Mickey Mantle 1956 World Series” (Photo 1,120)
22. 1987 Baseball’s Greatest Teams – 1961 New York Yankees
In 1987, TCMA produced 10 different nine-card sets from Baseball’s Greatest Teams. Two New York Yankees teams were issued. They were the 1927 and 1961 Yankees. Appearing in the 1961 set, Mantle was card No. 2. The card showed a color photo of Mickey in his Yankee road uniform, while in a right-handed batting pose in spring training. The reverse of the card included a write-up of Mickey’s impact during the 1961 season, as well as his batting statistics.
23. 1987 TCMA All-Time New York Yankees
In 1987, TCMA reprinted its 1980 All-Time New York Yankees team set by simply changing the color of the fronts to blue. The backs of these cards contained a Major League Baseball logo in the lower-left corner, and were not dated, as was the brown-colored 1980 issue. (Photo 1,122)
The Renata Galasso Inc. Issues
24. 1977-84 TCMA Renata Galasso – Series 1-6
In 1977, TCMA and Renata Galasso Inc., the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Hobby Card Dealer,” teamed up together to produce a 270-card set that was issued in six 45-card series. Using beautiful black-and-white photography, the cards featured a photo of the player with name in bold black print and his position and team at the bottom of the card. The reverse featured a short biographical write-up of the player with a card number inside a baseball. Galasso’s advertisement occupies a large portion of the back with the date of issuance and TCMA printed in the lower-right corner.
The Mantle card is No. 7 and was issued in the first series. It shows Mickey in an early photo that was taken around the mid 1950’s. The card is dated 1977 TCMA.
In Series 6, which was issued in 1984, card No. 232, honored Mantle for hitting “Baseball’s Longest Home Run.” The front shows a black-and white photo of Mantle in a right-handed follow through swing. The reverse features a write-up of Mickey’s historic blast off Chuck Stobbs on April 17, 1953.
25. 1984 Baseball Collectors Series
Reminiscent of the 1953 Bowman cards, Renata Galasso of Brooklyn, N.Y., produced its second set that contained Mantle. After teaming up with TCMA in 1977 for their 270-card set, Galasso issued a 20-card set that featured the game’s biggest stars. Using glossy black-and-white photos and red and black backs, the cards included lifetime stats of each player. The Mantle card was No. 20 and showed him grimacing in pain after a follow through left-handed swing. The cards are not dated and have the marking RGI for Renata Galasso Inc. (Photo 1,125)
26. 1984 Renata Galasso
Yankees Black and White
Resembling the 1961 Topps design, Galasso produced a 30-card New York Yankees team set that honored the 1961 club. Using black-and-white photography, the standard-size cards had a yellow and red horizontal box at the bottom of the card that contained the player’s name and position. The Mantle card used the same black-and-white photo discussed in the previous entry Baseball Collector’s Series. The reverse featured personal data and season and career statistics. The Mantle card was No. 7. (Photo 1,126)
27. 1984 Renata Galasso
Using different photography and a color format, this 37-card set also honored the 1961 World Series Champion New York Yankees. With contrasting color boxes like that of the black-and-white issue, the color set also has player’s name in red, while the position is inside a yellow box. The reverse of the card is totally different than that of the black-and white set. The Mantle card is No. 33 and features Mantle’s 1961 and career statistics.